During his visit to Bangalore, India for an interreligious seminar, Monsignor Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, Secretary to the Pontifical Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, visited the Daughters of the Church, the community to which JPII Leader Sister Gracy Joseph Vadakara (Cohort III) belongs and of which she is the Provincial Superior for India.
For Sr. Gracy, who also participated in the seminar in Bangalore, Msgr. Indunil’s visit to her community was a highlight. “It was a moment of great blessing and honor for us to have him for a short time,” she shares. “The children welcomed him with dance. He felt at ease with them, which shows his special attention for the poor and underprivileged.”
Msgr. Indunil’s address kicked off the four-day seminar, “Dialogue & Solidarity: A Religio- Subaltern Perspective,” organized by Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), a Pontifical institution for higher learning and formation. He spoke about the initiatives of the Catholic Church to be in dialogue with other religions and highlighted Pope Francis’ leadership around these endeavors.
Other eminent leaders of interreligious dialogue presented alongside Msgr. Indunil J. Kodithuwakku K. during this seminar, including Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado, who has served as Undersecretary in the same Dicastery as well as chairperson for Office for Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
Religious and lay folks from a variety of religions came together for this seminar, which covered a variety of themes around interreligious dialogue pertinent to all participants: “Interreligious Dialogue: Legacy and Reality,” “Women in Religion: Exploring Dimensions of Interreligious Dialogue,” and “Religions and LGBTQ: Intra- and Inter-religious Dialogue.” Some of the topics focused specifically on the Indian subcontinent, including: “Juridical and Political Impact of Laws and Policies on Religions in Contemporary India” and “The Role of Inter-religious Dialogue in Confronting Racial and Caste Segregation.”
The “Dialogue & Solidarity” seminar concluded with visits to various religious centers in Bangalore, including a Hindu ashram, a Buddhist temple, and a Jain temple. The interreligious focus and nature of this seminar resonate with Sr. Gracy’s many local initiatives. In fact, Sr. Gracy was recently featured in the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s newspaper, where she discussed her latest project, funded by a JPII Leader Grant: the building of an interreligious library in one of her congregation’s schools to provide children with the tools to learn more about other faiths, grow in religious literacy, and enhance their interreligious dialogue skills.